Hanson v Radcliffe Urban Council

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal

Education - Non-provided School - Teacher engaged by Managers - Notice of Dismissal and Offer of Reappointment by Local Education Authority at lower Salary - Notice whether “on educational grounds” - Right of Teacher to sue - Education Act, 1902 (2 Edw. 7, c. 42), ss. 5, 7, sub-ss. 1 (a), (c), 3, 4, 7.

In 1917 the plaintiff was engaged as an uncertificated assistant teacher by the managers of a non-provided school under an agreement whereby she was to be paid a salary in accordance with the scale then in force in the district. In December, 1921, defendants, who were the local education authority, directed the managers to give their teachers one calendar month's notice to terminate their agreements and to offer to reappoint them at reduced salaries. The managers refused to give the notices directed and thereupon the defendants gave the plaintiff notice to terminate her agreement with the managers. In an action by the plaintiff for a declaration that the notice was invalid and inoperative:—

Held, by Russell J. and the Court of Appeal, (1.) that the notice was not given “on educational grounds” within the meaning of s. 7, sub-s. 1 (a), of the Education Act, 1902, and was therefore invalid; (2.) that the defendants having by their action made themselves parties to the contract between the plaintiff and the managers, the plaintiff had a right to come to the Court for relief and was entitled to the declaration claimed.

Martin v. Eccles Corporation [1919] 1 Ch. 387 approved and followed.


The plaintiff was an uncertificated assistant teacher under an agreement with the managers of the St. Andrew's Church of England School at Radcliffe in the county of Lancaster, a non-provided school. The agreement was dated January 31, 1917, and was made between three of the managers and the plaintiff. By clause 1 it was provided that the teacher should teach and serve as an uncertificated assistant teacher as from September 11, 1916, in accordance with the requirements of the Board of Education, and under the direction as to secular instruction of the local education authority, and subject thereto under the direction of the managers, and should give religious instruction to the children and pupil teachers as provided by s. 7, sub-s. 6, of the Education Act, 1902.

Clause 3 provided that her salary was to be “in accordance with scale, unless the Local Education Authority otherwise decide, with a proportionate part for services rendered for less than a calendar month.” Clause 5 provided that the agreement might be terminated “on the last day of any month, except the holiday month of August, by either of the parties hereto, on giving to the other of them one calendar month's previous notice in writing to that effect as and from the last day of each month, and, if such notice be given by the managers it shall be given in accordance with the decision of a meeting convened by due notice to be given to every manager before such meeting, such notice to state that the termination of the agreement with the teacher will form part of the business of such meeting.” The defendants, as the local education authority, duly consented to the appointment of the plaintiff, and agreed to pay her salary in accordance with scale.

In September, 1920, new scales of remuneration were recommended and adopted by various education authorities as a consequence of the recommendations of a committee which sat under the presidency of Lord Burnham. One of these scales was that known as the Burnham Standard Scale No. 3. If the Burnham Standard Scale No. 3 applied to the plaintiff, she would receive a smaller remuneration than she would receive under her existing agreement. On December 19, 1921, a resolution, subsequently confirmed and adopted by the District Council, was passed by the education committee of the local authority that “directions be given to the managers of schools to give one calendar month's notice, to expire on January 31, 1922, to terminate the agreements with those teachers in their respective schools who are adversely affected by the operation of the Burnham Standard Scale 3 as modified by the report of the Associated Local Education Authorities for Lancashire and accepted by the Board of Education, and that the Secretary prepare (a) the form of notice and (b) a form of acceptance by the teacher of reappointment on new terms as from February 1, 1922, and forward the same, together with an explanatory letter, to the correspondents of schools; and, further, if the managers of any school fail to carry out such direction, that this authority carry out the said direction as if they were the managers of the school.” In pursuance of that resolution, certain documents were sent out. One was sent to the managers of the plaintiff's school. It was dated December 22, 1921, and was addressed to the correspondent of the school, and was as follows: “Dear Sir, I am instructed by the Radcliffe education authority to advert to the conference which the school management sub-committee had with the correspondents or other representatives of the non-provided schools in the Urban District last evening, when questions were considered affecting the bringing into operation of a new salary scale for teachers, known as the Burnham Standard Scale 3, which has been adopted by the local education authority, having regard to the attitude of certain classes of teachers who will be adversely affected thereby. It was explained that the Radcliffe Authority is a member of the Associated Local Education Authorities for Lancashire, and this body appointed a standing joint committee to recommend the appropriate standard scale of salaries which should be adopted for the county. The standing joint committee, which comprises representatives of the local education authorities and teachers, after having made special representations to the Board of Education, by letter and subsequently at interview, to modify the scale as far as it adversely affected the uncertificated teachers, especially, but without success, ultimately recommended the Associated Local Education Authorities to adopt the Standard Scale 3 as set out in the Burnham Report, subject to certain modifications therein as the Board of Education had agreed to accept. The Associated Local Education Authorities accepted and approved of the standing joint committee's report, and recommended each local education authority in the county to adopt the scale referred to, and, as stated above, it has been adopted by the Radcliffe Authority. The scale dates from April 1, 1921, but, as regards these teachers adversely affected by its operation, it has been agreed by the local education authorities that no refund of overpayment should be required to October 31, 1921. The Radcliffe Committee, with a view of facilitating the operation of the scale, had an interview with certain teachers whose salaries were adversely affected by the scale, on November 29, and desired them to accept the salary, payment to be made on the following day for the month of November, subject to adjustment on the new scale, but they declined to agree, and the Authority, therefore, are compelled most reluctantly to proceed in a formal manner to terminate the engagements of such teachers, in order to bring the said scale into operation. This will mean, if notices are issued this month, that the new scale cannot operate before February 1 next at the earliest.” Then there were set out various clauses in the teachers' agreement. The managers were requested to note that one calendar month's previous notice in writing was required, and attention was called to other formalities necessary to be observed on the part of the managers. The letter concluded as follows: “As the notices are given ‘by the direction of the Authority’ the notices should be in the form submitted. I enclose herewith appropriate forms of (1.) notice, and (2.) undertaking of teacher to accept new scale from February 1 to be sent to each teacher, and if managers will hold their meetings and sign the notices, and return them to me not later than noon on the 30th inst. I will see that they are duly forwarded to the teachers concerned.” Enclosed therein were the forms to be sent by the managers. The one addressed to the teacher was as follows: “I forward herewith the formal notice of termination of agreement of your office as teacher,” etc. The other was a formal resolution: “By direction of the local education authority for the Urban District of Radcliffe, and in pursuance of a resolution passed by the managers of the --- school at a meeting duly held and convened, authorising me, as chairman of the meeting, so to do, I hereby give you one calendar month's notice to terminate your agreement,” etc. Enclosed therewith was the form to be signed by the teacher: “I, the undersigned, am willing to accept reappointment as teacher in your school on the same terms and conditions as obtained in my agreement with you on January 31, 1922, except as to salary, and I hereby undertake to accept a salary ascertained, according to my status, on the basis known as the Burnham Scale 3, with such modifications as now made or may be made by the Associated Local Education Authorities for Lancashire, with the approval of the Board of Education.” The managers of the school at which the plaintiff was employed, on receiving these documents, considered them at a managers' meeting, and on December 30 they wrote to the local education authority in these terms: “Dear Sir, At a managers' meeting duly convened to consider the matter of the Burnham Scale 3, and its application to the teachers of these schools, the following resolution was carried: ‘That the managers, acting on legal advice, regret that they cannot comply with the directions given by the local...

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